Meredith Bates on "Tesseract", Space Garbage, and Non-Attachment

Words and music by Meredith Bates.

We are thrilled to have with us another artist we truly admire to share their thoughts and processes on their recent or upcoming work, as well as stems and excerpts to share with subscribers in The Zone for the sake of future remix projects. Vancouver-based composer, violinist, and producer Meredith Bate's upcoming LP, entitled "Tesseract" (out on Phonometrograph on June 2nd), is nothing short of massive. Coming in at just over two hours, this collection of live recordings combines visceral concréte collage with lush overdubs of droning string consonance to create a unique sonic palette that is both inviting and challenging. Meredith was kind enough to answer some questions regarding her process behind "Tesseract", as well as share an excerpt from the final track entitled "Debris" in WAV format for our Zone subscribers to get busy sampling and remixing. As per usual, we asked Meredith the same three simple questions we ask all our artists who share their work with us.

Can you tell us about your composition and production process regarding the song/composition/excerpt you chose to share your stems w/ for Klang?

I chose a short excerpt from my long form piece, Debris. When I think of Debris, I think of space garbage. Things just left to float for eternity in outer space until they either come into contact with another object’s gravitational pull, bang into something, or get sucked into a black hole and disappear. Sometimes I think of debris as necessary clutter; sometimes the vitally important in between. I composed this song, and all the songs from Tesseract, live off the floor as an improvisation using my violin, voice, and FX pedals. I recorded 9 hours of music over a day and a half at Afterlife Studios and my partner and co-producer, Chris Gestrin, and I pared it down to the just under 2 hours of material you hear on the album. The only layering that was done in post-production was the very occasional dove-tailing of different excerpts from the studio to create the longer form pieces. Tesseract, the longest piece on the album, is a one shot deal, performed and recorded live.

How do you feel about remix culture, especially online where music
has become so decommodified and demonetized? Are you comfortable with
people taking your tracks apart piece by piece for their own work?

I love remix culture. I think it’s really generous and cool when artists share their stems with the public. It shows a non-attachment to the music, in my opinion, where the music is allowed to live a life of its own. To me it kind of exemplifies a lack of ego and a true adherence to sound as muse with a spirit of its own. I’ve done a few remix projects where I’ve released the stems to my music and it’s always so inspiring to hear what other artists come up with with the same basic material. I do firmly believe in credit where credit’s due and honouring where the stems came from. Even if a remixer takes the music in a whole new direction that’s wildly different from the original, it’s really important to name where the original tracks came from. I’m not sure how I feel about music becoming decommodified and demonetized. I’m conflicted. Mostly I want people to appreciate and acknowledge the unquantifiable value that art brings to their lives.

Photo by Melvin Yap

Are there any words of encouragement you can give folks when
approaching your work as a remixable project? What do you hope for us
to hear? What do you hope for us to find useful?

I’m so stoked to hear what people come up with by remixing this excerpt! I wonder if it will stay sort of free-form or if people will gravitate toward finding a pulse? Will it be stripped down and minimal or will the remixes layer in more sounds for an even more orchestral sound? Gritty? Elegant? Or, both? I have no hopes or expectations to share, but I’m so curious to hear what direction the music wants to travel in! I’d encourage folks just to have fun.

A gifted improviser and performer, multiple award-winning violinist Meredith Bates has developed a reputation for both refined introspection and unfettered virtuosity on her instrument. The Vancouver-based artist has spent the past twenty years recording and performing around the world, in ensembles such as Pugs and Crows and Gentle Party, and in projects led by Vancouver music icons like Peggy Lee, Tony Wilson, Leah Abramson, and Ford Pier. Bates is the founder and leader of Like the Mind, a sextet of celebrated female improvisers from Vancouver and Stockholm—namely Peggy Lee, Lisa Ullén, Lisen Rylander Löve, Elisa Thorn, and Emma Augustsson—and of Sound Migrations, a multi-faceted collaboration combining electroacoustic soundscapes with processed photography.